Mother Hen



The children are home.


All three of them.


Hat was joined by Amelia a week ago and by Ben on Monday; he flew home from school in the north and arrived looking long haired and lanky.


Mother Hen’s nest is fully feathered again.


And the house resonates with the sound of shouts and laughter, two televisions (despite the fact nobody’s watching either), several conflicting musical tastes and – of course – the odd scrap.


Like yesterday afternoon, when I took to my bed with my lap top (feigning busy, important writer off to work in peaceandquiet) and was irked to discover I was unable to do what it was I’d hidden myself away to do – sleep, naturally – as World War III was evolving next door.


No matter. I’d rather noise than none.


Whole chocolate cakes disappear in a sitting. There are no longer leftovers, instead every meal is supplemented by bread (the bread machine is begging, ‘Enough, enough already!’). Or Weetabix. Or fruit (admittedly a last resort where a fourteen year old is concerned, the suggestion ‘have a banana’ is met with a look that says you just asked her to eat worms). Feeding teens is like trying to fill an unfathomable hole.


Conversations are loudly five-way now, bickering, bantering, bellowing to be heard above the rest. Games are a riot. Liar Dice is a mutiny of match throwing and manipulation of rules: You can lie, says the children’s father, but you cannot cheat.  


I suppose, I ought to, given the suffragettes efforts, given that I am meant to aspire to Have It All, want more than this: more than a houseful of rowdy kids who are hell bent on eating me out of house, home and outpost.  But I don’t. I feel replete. All my chicks in an untidy row, shuffling, trying to get comfortable and occasionally complaining, beneath my wing. A full faculty.


I am writing a book. A book about madness and motherhood. Do our constantly evolving roles: daughter, sister, career girl (I used to be one once – in London – sometime last century), lover, wife, mother, aunt, grandmother, friend – mean that our identities are constantly under siege? Is that why so many more women than men succumb to Depression? Do our multi-tasking skills burn out? Does trying to juggle too much mean that we might drop something? Ourselves, perhaps? 


Does it mean that when my children vanish over the horizons of Grown Up I shall go mad?


My friend B, a man, says of women, ‘Your emotional intelligence is better honed than ours; you think too much’.


I don’t think it’s the thinking that’s the problem; I think the problem arises when there is no longer as much to think about.








14 Responses to “Mother Hen”

  1. Mom de Plume Says:

    I love where you are at. I am lucky, my children are still small and very much around me and ALWAYS noisy. I thought, once, that I ought to be career oriented and, as a woman, “have it all”. Though I am studying to have a career some day when my kids are grown, and writing because I love to and I have to, I am a Mother… I do have it all!

  2. Tom Says:

    I was the runt of the litter (I’m 6’3″) and It must have terrified my dad when the 4 of us kids would sit down at the dinner table. I’m surprised you haven’t had to get another bread machine.

  3. nuttycow Says:

    You won’t go mad (I hope!) but it will seem quiet for a time. I think when the young ‘uns leave the nest it just means that you look forward to seeing them all the more.

    I did find, when I went home the other week, that I could only stay for a certain period of time before regressing to my teenage self. I’m sure my mother was thrilled to get rid of me by the end!

  4. Jane Says:

    Sounds wonderful! I always loved the madness when all of my siblings were home (I was the way youngest of 5) – and I’m betting my mom felt the same way.

  5. Roberta Says:

    The noise made me smile warmly and remember fondly! My own children are in the land of Grownup. I miss them so much.


  6. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    yup, mom de plume: you do and so do I: have it all. Enjoy them when they’re little, they grow up far, far too fast

  7. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    God, I bet it did! i’m the second smallest in my family now: only Hat is littler than me. As for bread machine … alas will have to wait to supplement since foraged that on foray abroad

  8. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    hi nutty: did you have a lovely time? I do hope so

  9. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    i agree, Jane, such gloriously happy, busy, noisey, greedy madness. i hate when the house empties, but for now, for the next 8 weeks, it’ll be bursting at the seams.

  10. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Roberta, i am sure you do: miss them. But i shall enjoy mine hugely for now. Thank you x

  11. Rob Says:

    Enjoy the hustle and bustle and chaos. Looking forward to reading the book – sounds fascinating.

  12. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    thanks Rob xo

  13. maggie may Says:

    You won’t go mad!
    Your house sounds action packed. From one extreme to another. My life is all about extremes…………. At least you have plenty to do now!

  14. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    you’re quite right mm: and i guess the good bit about going from one extreme to another is the respite between the looking forward to?

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